27 March 2009
A young father driven psychotic by years of smoking cannabis has been jailed for life after stabbing a teenager to death in a trivial row.
Imran Khan, 21, knifed 17-year-old Devoe Roach through the heart in March last year shortly after taking the drug.
Judge Giles Forrester said his consumption of strong skunk cannabis was to blame for his deteriorating mental condition.
Khan, of Stamford Hill, north London, was told he must serve a minimum term of 20 years after being found guilty of murder.
An Old Bailey jury rejected his defence that he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the killing.
After the verdict, his lawyer said relatives repeatedly tried to get treatment for Khan, whose family had a history of mental illness, but nothing was done.
Sentencing him, the judge said: “This was a tragedy waiting to happen. It is true that one of the risk factors for your mental illness is genetic, within the family.
“The other risk factor is your persistent use of strong cannabis, known as skunk.
“The more you abused that unlawful drug, the more psychotic you became, to the understandable concern of your family.
“You had even smoked cannabis before you set out on the day in question and you bear responsibility for the taking of that drug.”
Michael Holland QC, prosecuting, said the “casual and pointless killing” resulted from a street row started when Khan asked Devoe “who are you looking at?”.
A few minutes after the argument started, the killer, who did not know the youth, stabbed him through the heart. Seconds later he was dead.
Mr Holland said Khan, who is married with a young daughter, suffered from “paranoid psychosis brought on in part by a history of smoking skunk”.
He had a series of previous convictions dating back to the age of 12 when he was cautioned for possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, and later including robbery, burglary, and further weapons offences.
Philip Sutton, defending, said relatives had become concerned that he was behaving in a “completely irrational manner” and was hearing voices.
“His aunt and his grandmother approached various medical authorities with a view to seeing what could be done with him because they realised he was going from bad to worse,” he said. They were unable to “elicit a response which might have resulted in two lives not being blighted”, Mr Sutton added.
“The system seems to be incapable of grappling with the situation until it is too late.”
Devoe’s mother Dionne Roach described the effect of his death on her life in a victim impact statement read to the court.
“I will miss Devoe and grieve for him for the rest of my life,” she said.
“I know he was not an angel but he certainly did not deserve to have his life cut short in this way.”